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Some Retirees Tagged for Federal Health Benefits Test

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 1998 – The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will be opened to military retirees on a test basis if President Clinton approves the fiscal 1999 National Defense Authorization Act.

The act calls for a three-year demonstration beginning Jan. 1, 2000. Some 66,000 military retirees and eligible family members over age 65, who qualify for Medicare health benefits, would participate in the pilot program. Under current law, military retirees are eligible for military health care only on a space- available basis.

DoD designed the demonstration Congress approved giving military health care beneficiaries access to the federal employees' plan after they turn 65. Officials said the test would be held at six to 10 locations. After the test sites are selected, eligible retirees would be contacted, most likely by mail, officials said.

The demonstration would complement TRICARE Senior Prime, another trial DoD launched recently. Senior Prime allows a limited number of over-65 retirees and eligible family members to sign up for military health care at six locations.

Senior Prime runs through Dec. 31, 2000. Defense health officials hope the demonstration will show that DoD can provide Medicare-eligible beneficiaries with cost-effective health care through military medical facilities.

For more information on federal employee health benefits, visit the Office of Personnel Management Web site at http://www.opm.gov. For more TRICARE information, visit the Military Health System Web site at its new address, http://www.tricare.osd.mil/.

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